Wednesday, August 8, 2012

TRADER TRENCHES: The Neal Adams grail that never was!

At some point I decided I had to own a Neal Adams cover.  I'm a picky guy so it needed to be a great one--the Adams I would keep and not be tempted to sell.  The Brave and the Bold 86 cover (above) would have been perfect.  It has all I could want in an NA cover and its inked by Adams as well--a plus for those that love Adams.  Unfortunately I was offered this cover, many years ago, for the sum of 17k.  At the same time I was offered the JLA 91 cover (below) for 11K.
 I couldn't afford to buy both so I opted for the JLA 91--it was cheaper and it had all those other additional heroes on it.  What could be better?  I kept the scan of the B&B 86 cover and kept comparing the two--a mistake--once you make a decision between two covers delete the other scan.  Don't let it continue to haunt you!  I finally decided that I didn't like the inks on the JLA and sold it for about 15k.  My plan was to get the other cover even if I had to add in additional cash.  But it was too late, the collector that had the B&B 86 had sold it to a dealer.  Now the price was way higher than I wanted to pay.  The cover finally went to a seasoned Adams collector who has made it a permanent fixture in his collection.
Not one to give up the Adams hunt, I found this beauty, Brave and Bold 88 cover (above) at All Star Auctions table an San Diego--also many years ago.  I tried to work a deal but at the time this was a trade only piece for them.  The only trade they wanted from me was one of my Romita Spider-Man covers.  Well, that wasnt going to work--I had to wait for my next Adams opportunity...
BATMAN 224--I really thought this was going to be a keeper for me.  This was a tough cover to get.  I found a collector at Wondercon that was willing to move this cover to me.  The only problem was he wanted a Cardy Action cover in return that was owned by Steve Donnelly.  Uh-oh, I had never been able to do a deal with him.  We'd talked about deals for many hours, but we never got close enough to actually get one done.  The Cardy cover was worth about 5k.  I offered Steve 7500 and he turned me down.  The Cardy was a trade only.  I finally offered my MR. MIRACLE 18 cover, a cover worth 10k, by Jack Kirby (below) straight up for the Cardy. I expected Steve to jump at this deal--it was clearly in his favor.  Steve appeared tempted, but he wanted to know what the catch was.  He wanted to know what kind of trade, with someone else, I had in mind for his Cardy.  I asked him why it mattered when this trade was so clearly in his favor.  Steve hemmed and hawed, but finally agreed to the trade.  I took the Cardy to the collector with the Batman 224, and after adding in an additional 5k on my part we had a deal!  I finally had my ADAMS!!!

After owning the cover for a bit, some of the ink lines started to bug me.  I still had that stinking scan of the B&B 86 to compare ink lines.  The 224 was not inked by Adams and did not feel as slick.  Remember what I said about deleting scans?  Soon after that I decided that the 224 was not the perfect Adams cover for me after all.  I sold it for about 22k.

This would have been a fantastic cover to own, Batman 255 cover, pencilled and inked by Adams (above)--it sold many years back for 55k when these covers were thought to be worth 15k.  Never had a chance at this one--just showing off the scan!
 My next shot at the Adams grail was this very nice World's Finest 175 cover (above).  This had an added nostalgia factor for me.  I grew up in New York when Palisades Amusement Park would put adds in the back of comics.  They used this image at one point and it stuck in my brain--maybe this would be the keeper cover.  I managed to get this one in a trade with Bechara for about 15k.  But a few months later, Steve Fishler offered me 18k for it and I folded.  It's a beautiful cover with inks by Adams--but the Superman and Batman statue figures felt too small for me for it to be a keeper--I told you, I'm one picky fella.
Now this $%&# Cover would be a keeper.  World's Finest 208 (above)--I know where it is, and I'm sure it's going to stay there, forever!
Which brings me to JLA 86--I LOVE THIS COVER!  If any one knows where it is, you know where to find me.  I'm a picky buyer that's just looking for his Neal Adams grail.  Help a brother out.  Finder's fee happily paid!  Even if you can't help, you got to agreee that's a friggin' nice cover!


  1. Another great thread Glen. As a huge Adams fan, it is great to not only see these scans but also get some interesting historical market intel.

    In my opinion, the B&B #88 is far and away the best cover. Great dynamic innovative layout, sweet inks by Adams, and how can you go wrong with Wildcat?

  2. Thanks Mike. I think I still favor the B&B 86. Batman's a little awkward looking on the cover, but that adds to. the drama, and you can't beat those inks!!!!!

  3. I bought the Superman # 235 cover from Russ Cochran in the mid-1980s for $75 (it had failed to sell in auction so Russ re-offered it at a discount). I later re-sold the cover to a UK collector friend for £350 (about $475).

    I later regretted selling the Supes cover and by then prices had risen too dramatically.

    As luck would have it, I came across a dealer offering the cover to Tomahawk # 117 at a reasonable asking price (probably because it was non-superhero). I liked the cover image a lot more than my old Supes and as an added-bonus it was also from the 1960s, my era of nostalgia.

    The Tomahawk cover is dark and moody, showing the Rangers bound and being led towards a waiting hooded excetutioner and his gallows. From what I hear, Neal inked the cover also.

  4. Thanks for sharing the stories. I appreciate you actually listing prices since it helps give me some perspective on OA prices (for a new like me).

  5. No problem, Jim. It makes it more interesting. Just keep in mind that these price are VERY old--many years old.

  6. Being so active in the Adams market since I first started collecting (bought my first piece of art in 1980--an Adams Deadman cover #211 for $300), it's interesting seeing all these covers you posted, as I was either offered or considered buying each and every one of them. As you said, the B&B 86 cover is just a bit awkward, and the paste on circus tent was a turn off. I just missed out on Batman 255 cover on two separate occasions, and think it's superbly drawn. But each time it was offered, I would have had to pay state of the art money, and as aesthetically pleasing as it is, it wasn't a significant enough of a cover to reach for. Like Terry said, I would rather land a beautifully drawn cover from a "less desired" non super hero cover at a reasonable price than overpay for a cover just because it's Batman, even a beautiful one. My two Adams western covers in my collection are a couple of favorites. I think we are of a like mind Glen, because that JL 86 cover is a beautiful cover, and while it might not be "key", it's the one that moves you, and would be a lock down keeper. Sometimes aesthetics can trump "significance" and have the added benefit of being a bit more affordable. Not a bad equation for happy collecting.

  7. I really hate to agree with you Scott, but I do. :)

    Thanks for posting your interesting take on Adams. I consider you an Adams expert.

  8. My good friend and fellow Neal Adams fan, Garry, sent me an email with a link to this post knowing that I would have to chime in. Hi Glen. Hi Scott. Hi Terry. I enjoyed reading "Trader Trenches". Rarely do we get to follow the ins and outs of the collector decision making and reading yours was much fun. Scott and I have been on the Neal Adams original art hunt together since we first started collecting and it is always fun talking original art with him. I agree with Scott on the aesthetic value of Neal's non-super hero covers. One of my favorite Neal covers is The Phantom Stranger 3 cover that I bought while shopping with Scott in 1980. Or was it 1981? Scott, I thought it was 1981. Another favorite cover of mine is Tomahawk 129. Terry I owned Tomahawk 117, but when I acquired 129, I sold the 117 through a CBG ad. I did not notice the 129 cover when it was published but when I saw it reproduced in a fanzine a few years later it made a big impact. I always thought it was gorgeous in the way it featured Neal's great use of perspective and the use of the high camera angle that captured the action in the foreground, mid-focus, and long distance. Nonetheless, I miss the drama and the lovely inks on your 117 -- your cover is a showcase of lovely early Adams impressionistic inking. When the B&B 86 first was offered to me I was not impassioned with the Batman figure, but the more I thought about the total cover the more that it grew on me. For one thing, the Batman pose is executed with a wild perspective that only Neal would try and pull off back then. No one else in 1969, well no one else but Jack Kirby and maybe Jim Steranko too, would have had the balls to attempt that kind of foreshortened twisting action. Neal was crazy. And while it works it's magic on me, if it doesn't for you, Scott, I get where you're coming from. (But you HAVE To LOVE the Neal Adams hand coming right out at you. Isn't it funny how often that occurs on a Neal cover.) Other aspects of the cover that I love are on the slight differences in the inking techniques. The inks on the Batman figure are obvious and controlled as Neal was trying to nail down the impact of the image. Contrast that with the drawing and the inks on the two Deadman figures. The figures are loose, dynamic and the inks feel quick, more impressionistic. I love Deadman and I love Batman so this cover is also very satisfying in that aspect too. Neal's run on B&B was great, but it was the two Deadman stories, the Green Arrow story, and that incredible House of Mystery story from 93 that I remembered the most. I still am most pleased to have a cover from that run. The "perfect" Neal cover has illuded me for over thirty years but that's all right. I am thrilled to have been involved in such a great hobby for all of these years. Scott if the stat on the bottom right is still bugging you, you have my permission one day when you're retired to fix that for me.

  9. Hi Richard. Thanks for posting such a detailed take on Adams.

    But your teasing me with your still constant love and hold on that B&B 86 cover. It's the ONE that got away from me, isn't it? You can be straight with me.

    If you ever decide its time to send that cover packing, I'm right here!!!